No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

STUFFED MUSHROOM PARCELS (mushrooms en croute)

Sunday 8th January 2017.
Made this today for my roast dinner, each mushroom stuffed with Pateole mushroom spread and Meridian pesto, with cayenne pepper:

Decided to go with three, since they weren't all that big

With the two ends brought over the middle

One side brought up - with the surplus dough removed
Similar wth the other side

Dough squished and pressed into shape around the mushrooms and turned over - the weight keeps it together, and it looks a lot neater. The scraps have been rolled into savoury breadsticks (grissini)

The finished article, ready to serve (caught the top of the dough in our small top oven)
I served up half, initially, the came back for another quarter. It was gorgeous!

Sunday 15th April 2012.
Made this again today. (Full recipe further down the post)

The dough:
1 mug flour
1 tsp bouillon powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
3 large chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/3rd mug yeast liquid containing 10g fresh yeast
Large glug of oil from the SDTs

2 large Portobello mushrooms and 2 large button mushrooms
Stuffed with mushroom pate and vegan pesto

The dough was mixed and kneaded until smooth and divided into three pieces. These were rolled out and the mushrooms were placed in the middle:

The stalk was sliced and placed over the stuffing

The dough was gathered together over the mushroom, and the excess snipped off
The two button mushroom were stuffed, pressed together with the split stalks between them, then wrapped in the bread dough.

 They were left to prove for around an hour then baked - 20 minutes at 220C.

 The stuffing - just oozing out!

Tonight I had one with roast potatoes, etc, and a spicy tomato sauce instead of gravy.

The mushroom pate and pesto make a wonderful sauce which soaks into the bread base, so the effect is like an enclosed trencher - with trencher and topping cooked together. Simply gorgeous.

26th April 2011.
Stuffed field mushroom en croute - using a bread dough 

(Makes around 3)

200g (1 mug) strong white flour                                        
1/4 tsp salt                                                                  
125ml (1/3 mug) lukewarm water                                                               
1 rounded dessertspoon fresh yeast
Splash of olive oil (optional)

3 large field mushrooms
Mushroom pate
Vegan pesto

1. Measure the water and stir in the fresh yeast. Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl, pour in the yeast liquid, then add the olive oil if using.

2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Begin to mix by stirring the ingredients together with a knife, cutting through the dough. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up!

4. Leave to prove for about an hour on your worktop, covered with a dry tea towel. Or place in an oiled plastic bag until you are ready for step 5.

5. When you are ready, divide the dough into 3 pieces. Form each piece into a ball and roll out into circles big enough to form a parcel with the mushrooms.

6. Prepare the stuffed mushrooms by removing the stalk, then spread the pate over the mushroom and cover with the pesto. Divide the mushroom stalk into two and place it in the middle of the circle.

7. Place the mushroom, filling down, over the mushroom stalk and bring up the edges of dough in 3 or 4 places to meet over the top of the mushroom. Squeeze the edges of dough together so they stick to one another and place smooth side up on a baking sheet. Repeat with the other mushrooms.

8. Leave to prove until the dough is risen and puffy then bake at 220C, 425F or gas 7 for about fifteen minutes. There should be some colour under the parcels to show that they are cooked right through.

Sunday, 1 January 2017


Here are some of the 5:2 vegan dishes on my blog:

(My experiences with Intermittent Fasting over almost 2 years)

Ratatouille pie made with a bread dough and a rich ragu sauce

Simple chocolate cake costing around 70p

Chocolate 'Cake in a mug' - adapted to fit a cereal bowl (it's easier to get to!)

Trifle - yes, 5:2 calorie counted trifle. It's just gorgeous

Here's a week's vegan menu - not calorie-counted


Update - 13th Feb 2012.
Made 2 x 200g soda breads today (one, an Italian focaccia-type loaf), including a good glug of olive oil - they were gorgeous  with a lovely soft crust:

(Also: Fruit soda bread and Curried soda bread)

(This is a very adaptable bread – you can put anything in it that takes your fancy!)

1 mug or 200g self raising flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/3rd mug or 125ml water

1. Heat the oven to 220C, 425F, gas mark 7 and prepare your baking tray.

2. Place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. When the oven is hot, add the water and begin mixing with a table knife or similar.

3. Mix together into a soft dough, stirring and cutting through the dough as it forms, adding more flour or water as needed. Turn it out onto a floured worktop, firmly mould it into a round flat loaf, about 3cm thick and place it on your prepared baking sheet. (With practice you can get the mixing and shaping done in less than two minutes.) To allow the heat of the oven to reach the centre of the dough more easily, cut a deep cross into the top of the loaf with the knife.

4. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 20 minutes, but check after 15.

5. The loaf is ready when it has a good colour underneath and a skewer comes out clean – or it ‘breaks’ cleanly. You may need to put it back in, upside down, for a few more minutes. Place to cool on a wire rack and – for a softer crust – wrap the bread in a tea cloth.

Fruit soda bread:
At step two, instead of the salt, add 1 dessertspoon of sugar, half a mug (100g) of dried fruit and a teaspoon of mixed spice.

Curried soda bread:
At step two, along with the salt, add a teaspoon of curry powder.

Italian soda bread (see pics, above)
At step two, after the water is added, pour in a good glug of olive oil (2-3 tablespoons?) then proceed as per the recipe;
Then, if you wish to make it into a focaccia, at step four, after the dough is mixed, give the dough 3 or 4 flatten and folding actions, then roll out into a circle about 1.5-2cm thick. Press holes in it with your fingers, then fill the holes with olive oil. Make sure you use a tray with a lip to contain any oil that spills over.
Bake as above - the olive oil disappears just as the loaf is baked! I always get a kick out of that!

These amounts make a small loaf – for a larger loaf, just double up the ingredients and bake for 25-30 minutes.
If you only have plain flour, you’ll need to add baking powder  - 1 teaspoon for each 100g of flour, or 2 teaspoons for a mug full.
You can also make these breads with wholemeal or spelt flour.

In a frying pan:
Roll or squash the loaf into a flat round and bake it in a dry frying pan with lid (use a baking sheet if you don’t have a lid) for about 6-7 minutes on each side on medium heat.

Here's how I made this frying pan bread in only 13 minutes!

And, my new record, bread made in a sandwich toaster in only 8 minutes!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016


Thursday 9th June 2016
Here's my latest seitan - made with leftover veg and potato stew + vital wheat gluten and flavourings:

Two ways to cook this - one half baked in the oven, the other half dry fried
All I do nowadays is to weigh off the leftover stew - today around 350g, then estimate how much wheat gluten I'll need - and I went for 150g.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016


13th December 2016
News just in - A Plant-based TV show!

This was a comment on Michael Greger's video on aspirin.

Here's an blurb that I just read on Meatout Mondays:
"You may have heard of TV shows like The Biggest Loser, Bar Rescue, and Extreme Weight Loss but did you know that the producer of these shows is vegan? And that he has decided to launch a plant-based version of the famed, The Biggest Loser? The Big Fat Truth will aim to have participants eat a plant-based diet—while under the watchful eye of the amazing Dr. Michael Greger. In an interview with VegNews, Roth said, "a group of six diabetic participants featured on the show completely ceased taking medication after theinitial 10-day, plant-based transition—just from eating plants!" The show is set to air in April 2017 on the Z Living network. Plant-based TV shows by 'big deal' producers? Yes please!" Full article

7th December 2016
In an attempt to avoid BSE/CJD (Mad Cow's Disease), I became a vegetarian 15 years ago. I first of all gave up beef, then, after Christmas 2001, all other sources of meat. It was just easier that way.

It then took me around 2 years to transition to a completely plant-based (vegan) diet - impelled by increasing concerns about animal welfare. About 2-3 months after giving up all sources of dairy, I found that my nasal drip - a constant irritant - had completely dried up. 

My osteoarthritis, from which I'd suffered for the previous few years, stabilised - it was no longer getting worse each year, as it had been. Today it is no longer a concern - I no longer have osteoarthritis.

Now, of course, Climate Change has reared its ugly head and forswearing meat and meat products is even more of an imperative.

So, 3 reasons to adopt a whole food, plant-based diet: 
Animal Welfare; and, 
Global Warming.

Any one of these three reasons, IMO, should be sufficient on its own to persuade people to eat nothing but plants.

The evidence for the health effects of eating a plant-based diet is overwhelming. The case is made most effectively in the film, Forks Over Knives. (95 minutes) 

Here is a review.

The film Forks Over Knives, Extended Interviews is also available. In it the scientists who contributed to the film talk about their work.

Review here.

Friday, 9 December 2016


23rd January 2013.
Made this in the microwave, but, because other microwaved cakes of mine have over-flowed the silicon cake form I use, I reduced the amount by 20%:

Microwave version:

160g self raising flour (for a gluten free version, just substitute GF s/raising flour)
120g granulated sugar
20g cocoa powder
80g grated, cooked beetroot
100g water
60g apple juice 
40g vegetable oil

Using an 800W microwave, 7 minutes minutes on full power. Leave in the cake form for ten minutes to finish cooking.

[Pics to come]

Made this again, with oil this time and some apple juice instead of water. I also reduced the sugar by a quarter. I think this makes a nicer loaf.

Revised recipe:
200g self raising flour
150g granulated sugar
2 dessertspoons cocoa powder
100g grated, cooked beetroot
100g water
100g apple juice
50g vegetable oil

At work this morning, I was collared by the wife of one of my friends on the walk, who told me he hadn't stopped talking about the chocolate and beetroot loaf - and could she have the recipe, please!

Certainly looks the part

Risen quite well
I've been meaning to try this ever since I bought some of this bread at the 'Taste of Christmas' Show at the Excel Centre before Christmas last year. The bread was amazing. We were told it was vegan, and made with fruit juice - and whatever fruits they were making it with. There was an astonishing variety of cakes, all made to a basic formula.

Finally managed to track down the company - Global Fusion, of Stoke Newington, London, N16.

Since making vegan chocolate cake, which uses self raising flour, I've been wondering about the dividing line between that sort of cake and a soda bread. My thought was that the Creole breads come somewhere in the middle.

I'd also wanted to make a soda bread version of the chocolate and beetroot loaf I've made quite a few times.

So this is my attempt - and it's in the oven right this very minute. Another 25 minutes will tell me if I'm on the right track or not.

200g self raising flour
200g sugar
25g cocoa powder
100g cooked beetroot, grated
200g water

Measure the dry ingredients (sifting the cocoa powder) into a mixing bowl, add the grated beetroot then the water. Stir with a large spoon, then whisk for a few seconds then pour into a prepared loaftin.

Only when I was pouring it in the loaftin did I realise - too late - that I'd forgot to include any oil.

So, we'll see shortly, just what sort of a cock-up I've made!

60 minutes later. The bread's out of the oven, sliced and tasted. It tastes fine, but we'll see what my fellow walkers think of it tomorrow.

Well, it's different! It holds together well, but it's a little rubbery; it's slightly claggy in mouth feel; it's sweet - perhaps too sweet; but when I'd finished a taste, my mouth wanted to taste it again - so that's a positive.

I'll see what my mates think.

Next time I'll make one just as it was described to me by the stall holder - full of fruit juice. So I'll ditch the beetroot and make it just with apple juice - perhaps using 150g of sugar instead of 200g. Oh, and I'll definitely include some oil - perhaps 50g.

Wednesday 2nd May.
Beautiful day for a walk on the Quantocks with some good friends, and about an hour into the walk I brought out the bread - which went down very well! "Moist," "Delicious""Very nice!"

So even without any oil at all, it's still an excellent loaf!

Saturday, 3 December 2016


Tasty tomato pizza (Cost, around 70p)

150g (1 mug) strong white flour 7.5p (551cals)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder (optional) (5cals)
100g (1/3rd mug) lukewarm water
10g fresh yeast 4p (from Sainsbury's - free from Asda) (10cals)
25g sunflower oil from s-d-tomatoes (free) (optional)

Topping:Half a tin of tomatoes, reduced, with a tsp soya sauce and dried herbs - 20p (50cals)
One sliced mushroom and tomato - 10p(?) (20cals)
A little Roasted red pepper - 10p (10cals)
3 s-d-tomatoes, chopped - 20p (40cals)
A sprinkle of nutritional yeast (nooch) and oregano - pennies (20cals)

(Total calorie count - 706. A pizza for one, using 100g of flour, would work out at 470cals!)

Sunday, 27 November 2016


300g baked seitan - enough for two Sunday roasts
I needed some seitan for the coming week, so I thought I'd cook some up whilst the oven was on for a Sunday roast. (More seitan info.)

I used leftover spicy tomato sauce (from pizza-making yesterday), as a base.

200g vital wheat gluten
4 dessertspoons nutritional yeast (nooch)
2 teaspoons bouillon powder
2 dessertspoons curry powder (I like a lot of heat - add to taste)

200g homemade tomato sauce - made with a tin of tomatoes, blitzed, with mushroom sauce, soy sauce, vegan pesto (Marigold), Lingham's chilli sauce, mixed herbs.

Mix the dry ingredients, then add 150g of this to the tomato sauce. Stirring with a table knife, I found this was too wet, so I added another 25g of powder. It was still too wet, so another 25g of powder were added - then I kneaded this into a dough.

300g of this were pressed into a small, oiled, roasting dish and baked, with a lid, for 30 minutes - whilst the oven was on for the roast potatoes, etc.

Cut into two pieces, one half for tonight's dinner, and the other in the freezer.
For Sunday dinner I have one of these halves, sliced, with some of the tomato sauce instead of gravy. The half in the freezer could be next Sunday's dinner or, chopped into chunks, become part of a chilli non carne.

The other 150g I rolled out into a cutlet Notes:
This made 450g of seitan, the other 150g, pressed out into a circle about 10cm across and dry-fried for about 7-8 minutes each side, will make a seitan cutlet, which I will have for dinner tomorrow along with some curried potato wedges.

You get a more even thickness if you use a rolling pin - don't believe those other websites which tell you that this makes it tough - not true. 

I had about 40g of the flavoured vital wheat gluten left. I've found it's always better to make more than you need, it saves having to flavour another 25g, then perhaps another 25g. I put the leftover in an old spice tub which I keep in the bag of gluten flour, so it's there next time I want to make seitan.

Thursday, 24 November 2016


Thursday 24th November 2016
Still in the zone - every meal I have without something sweet afterwards makes it easier. I was in Lidl today, and, although I bought a box of Turkish Delight for Christmas, I left the other stuff well alone. This is a first for me! :)

Saturday 19th November 2016
Well, it's only been one week, now - and I'm astonished! 

In that time I've had 4 squares of dark chocolate and several pieces of a homemade fruit soda bread - eaten as part of dinner.

My mouth no longer tells me it wants something sweet after a meal - it just doesn't! My desire for sweet stuff is getting easier every day.

This afternoon I made this 'cake in a mug' for my grandson - and I wasn't tempted in the slightest. 

So does it take just 7 days to ween oneself off sugar? I'm only a study of one, of course, but it does look very hopeful.

Thinking about it, what I was doing previously was a bit like a cigarette smoker trying to give up by smoking less - it just doesn't work. Every time you have another cigarette, you're reinforcing the nicotine addiction. Every time you have a biscuit/sweet/etc, you're reinforcing the sugar addiction.


Saturday 12th November 2016
As regular readers may remember, for the past several months, I've been trying to give up - or severely cut down on - alcohol, sugar and snacking in the evening, using the 2:5 method.

I'm now down to 1 pint of stout and a small glass on wine on one day a week, and I only have a late night snack on Saturdays. But sugar has been a far harder nut to crack. I have cut out all snacking between meals, and only eating any treats after lunch or dinner. Once I start, however, despite all the tips I've learned over the past 4+ years, I'm not always able to stop.

The lead up to Xmas I find particularly difficult; Lidl have now introduced their Xmas fare, which includes several vegan treats including chocolate covered marzipan, chocolate liqueurs, marzipan fruits and Turkish delight. In previous years I've gone to town on these, reasoning that, since they're not available year-round, I should fill my boots, as it were. This year I've been more circumspect, but I still have all these goodies to hand, albeit in smaller quantities.

However, this still didn't square with my stated aim of giving up sugar.

Finally, last Saturday, I thought, right, time to take drastic(ish) action. I bundled up all my goodies in a plastic bag and threw them on top of a tall kitchen cupboard*. All I've had since then has been 2 squares of dark chocolate (I find it easy to stop after one square) - one on Sunday and one yesterday. Since I'm fasting, no chocolate for me today.

Although it's only been three days, I really feel that a corner has been turned.

Monday, 7 November 2016


A simple soda bread*

Pancakes - just as good as the ones made with milk and eggs

Pikelets - This calls for a thicker batter which doesn't spread out over the pan

Tempura - A slightly thicker batter again: simply dip in some thin slices of your chosen 'filler', and shallow fry

Pasta - without need for a machine!

Sourdough. This needs time, but a flour and water batter, left for a few days will begin to ferment - and then you can turn it into bread!

Naan breads - done in the oven, under a grill, or in the frying pan

Pastry Here's a very simple rhubarb pie recipe - just self raising flour and water, with a little sugar and some olive oil, mixed together and rolled out. For a savoury pastry use a little salt instead of sugar.

Chappatis, of course. No need for a link, there are many recipes on line for this.

Dumplings Mix self-raising flour and water together into a dough, form into small balls and add to your stew! Talk about 'Easy-Peasy'!

*The term 'Soda bread' covers a wide range of breads (more to come)